Fourth Circuit Holds that Blocking on Public Official’s Social Media Page Violates First Amendment

By
Katie Fallow and Ella Solovtsova Epstein
February 25, 2019

On January 7, 2019, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit became the first appellate court to address how the First Amendment applies to social media accounts operated by public officials – an issue that has become increasingly important as more and more government officials turn to social media as the primary way to speak to, and hear from, their constituents. In Davison v. Randall, 912 F.3d 666 (4th Cir. 2019), as amended (Jan. 9, 2019), the court found in favor of free speech rights online, holding that a local county official’s Facebook page, which she used for official purposes, was a public forum and that her decision to temporarily block plaintiff Brian Davison from posting on the page was unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

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